Today I decided to go outside and burn some of the leaves that had been piling up. So I built a fire. This is something I’ve done for most of my life. Creating a fire takes some knowledge to do safely and efficiently. I dig down the fire pit to keep it below the breeze. I stack boxes on top of papers. I crumple up an old newspaper or two. Finally, I strike a match. In fact, I strike two. Having two ignition points saves time. I can set down my matchbox and reach for my fire stick in case there is an issue and something needs removed and stomped out.
Tending the fire takes just as much work. Placing the fuel in the right places and separating papers, if you’ve got letters to burn too, takes attention to detail. Keeping the fire small is part of that tending, and burning small heaps of leaves at once takes time. I simply decide how fast I can safely burn everything and tend it till it’s done. Only then do I run out of things to do.
See, the fire has to go out. Either it’s going to burn up the rest of its fuel or it’s got to be doused. It’s not until the fire is done that I get to sit down and watch it. Leaving the flame unattended just isn’t safe, so there I sit. But then I look up.
My bonfire pit sits right below several tall trees. Light still shines down between the leaves. While I’m building the fire, all I can see is the shade and the bits of light on the ground that make it through. But looking up is different. The light making it through are rays of sunlight. You can’t see rays of sunlight, but sometimes when there is fog, or maybe even smoke, the light catches on the particles. The entire time I sat there meticulously working on this fire, I was being showered with beautiful rays of sunlight. And I didn’t notice them because I never looked up.
I’m convinced that there are 2 groups of people in this world. Those with their head down see the world as a series of numbers, and laws, and work that must be performed right. Every combination in the world has an expected outcome. In a word, the world around us is simply natural science. I have my head down.
Yet, everyday you meet people who wear metal bracelets promising long life. You hear about horoscopes and the power of crystals. Those of us with our heads down can’t fathom what makes people believe in these things. But that doesn’t change the fact that the other side has their head up.
While I’m tending my fire, they can see the rays of sunlight. Perhaps they could see them even before I built my fire. But all I have left after looking down… is a pile of ash.
(This has been a break from the regularly scheduled RPG talk. Chatting about story games will continue later this week.)